When law enforcement stops you on suspicion of drunk driving, they often conduct what they refer to as field sobriety tests. Although they may ask you to say the alphabet backwards or hop on one foot or touch your nose with your eyes shut, there are only three sobriety tests recognized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Those are:
- The Walk and Turn test.
- The One-legged Stand test.
- The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test (HGN), sometimes called the PEN test.
In Pennsylvania, the HGN test is no longer admissible in court. Officers tend to ask you to do sobriety tests they know are not admissible as evidence against you in an attempt to get you to say something incriminating. If you have been asked to perform any of these tests, do not answer any questions. Particularly, if an officer asks you if you have been drinking, refuse to answer the question.
The field sobriety tests are totally subjective. The law enforcement officer uses the information to judge in his own mind if you are intoxicated. The problem is that almost hundreds of totally sober people fail these tests.
If the officer decides you failed the sobriety tests, he can then ask you to take a Breathalyzer test. If you agree, and the test registers a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher, you will be arrested for drunk driving. Most people are unaware that they can refuse to participate in roadside field sobriety tests and can also refuse to submit to a roadside breath test with a portable Breathalyzer test without consequences.
If you are arrested and taken to the police station because you failed Philadelphia field sobriety tests, you can no longer refuse chemical testing, whether a breath, blood or urine test, without suffering the consequences of having your driver’s license suspended for one year.
Call Attorney Ken Chotiner
Attorney Ken Chotiner has been practicing law since 1996 and now focuses his practice on defending those charged with driving while intoxicated (DUI). He has experience in challenging field sobriety tests. Often, officers who claim they arrested you due to your poor performance on the field sobriety tests, cannot answer when asked to what degree of certainty the test they administered identifies drunk drivers.
If it can be shown that the tests were unreliable, everything that follows may be deemed unreliable and you have a chance at winning your case and having the charges dismissed.